Russian FM: US spares al-Qaeda’s branch to topple Assad
The US may hope to use al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria to unseat Assad government
Russia’s foreign minister said Thursday that he believes the US may hope to use al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria to unseat Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.
Addressing an economic forum in St. Petersburg, Sergey Lavrov argued that the reluctance of US-backed Syrian opposition groups to distance themselves from al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, has been a major reason behind continuing fighting.
He said the US could be “playing some kind of game here, and they may want to keep Nusra in some form and use it to topple the regime.”
Lavrov added that he raised the issue in a recent phone conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who he said denied any such plans. “But why then the Americans with all their potential can’t force the units they have been working with to leave the territories controlled by bandits and terrorists,” he said.
Lavrov was commenting on Kerry’s warning that Washington is losing its patience with Russia, as the US- and Russia-brokered cease-fire in Syria was at risk mainly due to violations by Assad’s forces with Russian air support.
The truce, which went into effect on Feb. 27, has helped reduce hostilities in certain areas of the country, but fierce fighting has continued around Aleppo and in some other provinces. Nusra and ISIS have been exempt from the truce.
Russia at some point issued an ultimatum for opposition units to leave Nusra-controlled areas or face airstrikes, but later agreed to give more time for them to pull out. Spared the Russian strikes,
Nusra has used the moment to replenish its supplies and receive reinforcements, Lavrov said.
Last hour: Kerry, Lavrov discuss joint operation in SyriaNews Bulletins
Kerry urges Lavrov to press for end of Syrian bombing of oppositionThe United States and Russia are co-partners in the so-called Vienna diplomatic process of the International Support Group for Syria Middle East
UN Syria envoy meets Lavrov in Moscow ahead of peace talks resumptionAssad’s fate remaining a major sticking point, with the opposition demanding he leave power before any transitional government is agreed Middle East
The Kerry-Lavrov remedies for solving crisesSome of what is happening in the Libyan, Yemeni, and Syrian issues deserves serious investments rather than disregard... Middle East